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Episode 23 - Slum Angel: Elsie Sigel & The Chinatown Trunk Murder

In 1909, New York City Police discovered the corpse of a white woman stuffed into a trunk. Because cops found the corpse in a Chinese man’s apartment, the murder ignited a ‘war’ against Chinese Americans, who the press claimed were out to steal and spoil white women. This episode is the story of the Chinatown Trunk Mystery, the ‘Yellow Peril,’ and the destruction it caused for America’s immigrant communities.


Bovsun, Mara. “The Chinatown Trunk Mystery.” Daily News. 25 March 2008.

Chow, Kat. “How The White Establishment Waged A ‘War’ on Chinese Restaurants in the U.S.” GBH. 16 June 2017.

Fuchs, Chris. “The Chinese railroad workers who helped connect the country: Recovering an erased history.” NBC News. 22 April 2019.

Lui, Mary Ting Yi. The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).

“The Murder of Elsie Sigel by her Chinese Lover, 1909.” Historical Crime Detective.

Powell, J. Mark. “The Body in the Trunk: Who Killed Elsie Sigel?” 29 October 2015.

“Why Social Workers in the Slums Become Depraved.” The Star Company. 1914.


Day Book. 6 January 1912. P. 23.

Evening Star. June 20 and 25 1909.

Los Angeles Herald. 27 June 1909.

New York Times. June 19 to 28, 1909.

New York Tribune. 23 June 1909.

Orange County Observer. 1 July 1909.

Palestine Daily Herald. 21 June 1909.

Princeton Union. 8 July 1909.

San Jose Mercury News. 23 June 1909.

Spokane Press. 26 June 1909.

Music: Dellasera by Shane Ivers -

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